I think I must have my holiday season associations mixed up.
I know some people like to think of winter as starting in November, or spring starting in April and so forth, (it might as well be around here), but I happen to know and stress otherwise.
For example, even though Thanksgiving and Halloween are both Autumn holidays, turkey day to me has always been a festive harvest occasion, while Halloween always gets me excited for winter.

If this is the point where your brain just screeched to a halt, you can go back and read that again, but it was right the first time. I don’t know whether it’s to do with seven-headed rodent kings, skeleton Santas or Dickens’s ghosts, but something about that last day of October, (it should always be chilly), just gets my toes curling in anticipation for fur-lined boots crunching through snow and snuggling under warm blankets and listening to the wind howl outside.
Those readers who have been with me since the days when I was more prolific can probably appreciate the strangeness of this admition.
And now I offer you a story, one day late, but I was feeling inspired.

As soon as Kaylie pulled her head up, she began searching for Billy. Her wet hair whipped against her face as she looked wildly around the room.
“That wasn’t funny Billy!” she shouted to the emptiness; her little fists clenched. Then she went tearing out of the room to find mama.
Mama had gone inside earlier with a headache and left Billy in charge. Mama had headaches a lot, but one time when Kaylie had come inside to get a bandaid for her cut and to tell on Billy for pushing her, she had caught Mama kissing a strange man in the laundry room. She must have had a real headache today though because Kaylie found her in bed; a glass of water on her nightstand.
“Mama! Mama Billy’s being mean again.”
Mama opened and closed her eyes without looking at Kaylie.
Kaylie tried again, but Mama didn’t so much as glance at her. Patches the cat came over and sniffed at Kaylie. Then his fur got big and fluffy and he hissed at her. Patches had never hissed at Kaylie before. She backed away.
Billy had gone back outside to join his friends after he had let Kaylie go, and that was where she found him.
“Mama’s really mad at you Billy,” she lied; hands on hips. “She’s going to come down any minute to whup you.”
Billy ignored her; continuing to throw the green and white ball around with his friends.
“Whadja’ do to your dumb little sister anyway,” one of the boys asked.
“Don’t worry about her,” Billy dismissed.
Mad now, Kaylie ran up and got right in his face.
“I AM RIGHT HERE! STOP IGNORING ME!”
But Billy just danced away and threw the ball to one of his friends. Kaylie ran and tried to catch the ball, but the boys were all taller than her and so it was easy to keep it out of her reach.
When finally Billy got the ball again, he turned and threw it hard. Kaylie had to duck out of the way as it came right at her face. Then she went running inside and began hollering.
“MAMA! MAMA BILLY’S THROWING BALLS AT ME NOW!”
Mama came staggering downstairs then and nearly tripped over the bucket of water in the middle of the dining room. She swore; then fast walked to the kitchen door and leaned out.
“Billy,” she called, “what’s this bucket doing in the middle of the floor?”
“I donno,” Billy called back. “Kaylie musta brought it inside.”
“Nuh uh,” Kaylie countered. “He brought it in to show me how to bob for apples.”
“Well it doesn’t belong there,” Mama finished. “Now send your friends home and come clean up all this water that got spilled.
Kaylie watched smugly as Billy laid newspaper down over the wet spot while Mama dried and put away the rest of the apples. When Mama came back in to the dining room to put the bucket away, Billy jumped up and ran to her.
“Mama don’t.”
She shook him off as he grabbed at her arm.
“I’m putting it away. The closet’s where it goes Billy.”
“Wait, I wanted to use it for something else.”
“Not now,” Mama said firmly.
“She pulled open the closet door and shoved the bucket inside, but it wouldn’t go in. Yanking aside an old suitcase, she tried again. Then she stumbled back as something fell out. Her hands flew up to her mouth; the bucket forgotten beside her.
Kaylie’s small form lay crumpled on the floor; still in her little blue dress. Her curly dark hair and shoulders were soaked through from the water; bits of apple still in her mouth.